Kampala, Uganda | URN | Doctors at Mulago National Referral Hospital have urged men to take up vaccination against tetanus, raising an alarm that they comprise the highest number of admissions at the facility.
According to Dr John Ssekabira, the acting deputy director of the hospital, more men are being treated for tetanus but only get to be jabbed after getting injured in accidents.
Ssekabira says saving those that test positive for tetanus is very costly, and lives are lost unnecessarily to a disease whose vaccines are readily available.
Sr Deborah Mawanda, the in-charge of immunization at Mulago says to be on the safe side, individuals need to take a combined tetanus and diphtheria vaccine five times in their lifetime. She says, unfortunately, even when they organize medical camps, only females tend to turn up for tetanus vaccination.
“The bad thing, we get only ladies. And even when we go to schools, you will find them lining only girl children, and you tell them; ‘we came also for boys.’ It is combined, tetanus and diphtheria. That is why we now call it DT instead of TT. Even now, when you get an accident and you come for tetanus, [diphtheria] is included. Pregnant mothers are also getting it,” said Mawanda.
Experts recommend that once one gets the DT vaccine, a second dose should be taken four weeks later, another after four months, then after six months, and the final one after two years.
For now, Mawanda says even as more women are getting vaccinated, having them complete their doses has become a challenge unless someone is a mother of reproductive age who’s given a mandatory vaccine during antenatal clinics.
She warns that tetanus can be life-threatening as sufferers tend to present with symptoms such as jaw cramping, involuntary muscle spasms, stiffness, seizures, and organ failure.
Caused by the Clostridium tetani bacteria, management of tetanus in adults often requires treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU), which is often not available or very costly, resulting in preventable deaths.
In Mulago for instance, in a study whose results were published last year, 224 of the 459 people that were admitted died of whom 85.3% were male.